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Making Study Abroad an Option for MMU Students

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Geoffrey Manton Building, MMU, Wednesday 27th November 2013

Guest speakers spoke to Manchester Metropolitan University students about the Third Year Abroad opportunities available to them. Each speaker described their experiencesand suggested how to overcome any barriers they may face and make studying abroad possible and worthwhile.

The aim of the event was to promote the benefits of studying abroad and inspire students to go to another part of the world on placement through MMU, as well as interacting with people who speak another language and developing a level of understanding of their language and culture.

Dean of Faculty at MMU,  Dr Sharon Handley  hosted the event. “We live in a global world and anything you are going to do after graduation will involve meeting people from different parts of the world, probably travelling to and from different parts of the world too,” she said in her opening address. “Therefore, it is very important that we, as part of your experience here at MMU, make opportunities like going abroad available to you.”

Dr Handley added that the increasing importance of language skills means many companies prefer to recruit graduates who have lived abroad. This is because language skills are so important in this global context that we are living in today.

Guest Speaker Lizzie Fane, founder of the Third Year Abroad website, travelled from London to share her experiences of studying abroad. Lizzie talked about what to expect when going abroad to study. As part of her studies, Lizzie has been abroad and while she was there, she came up with the idea of Third Year Abroad to help new students begin their journey in another country. She said, “I made this website to help students find out more about the year abroad and I wanted to pass on advice to the next generation of students. I created the website keeping in mind some issues like, before you go, when you arrive, when you’re back. There is also advice about accommodation, money, can you afford to go, and you can also read case studies, about culture shock and long distance relationships. The welcome back section is also about further study you might consider and the career options open to you.”

Lizzie also added, “I found and grabbed hold of all the opportunities I could to develop my language skills. In the process, I met new people and achieved some really valuable work experience for my CV.”

“All the students taking part in the scheme are ultimately given the opportunity to start again, suddenly, you’re in a NEW country, it’s a NEW start and YOU design your year abroad in the way YOU want it to be.”

Helen Jones, another guest speaker from Bentley Motors in Cheshire talked about her year abroad in Germany. More than anything else she gained a significant amount of experience from the time she spent abroad. She strongly recommended that, “any opportunity given at your university should be considered and in the end it will be well worth it.”

HLSS Intern John Singh-Green looked at his experience from a student perspective. In 2010/2011 he went abroad to study at State University of Cortland for four months. He said that “studying abroad is an amazing experience but it does come with some problems. I didn’t know what to expect and I really should have done some research before I got there. I struggled to settle in and I found it very difficult. There was also a massive culture shock for me and going out at the age of 20 I couldn’t drink in New York, so I struggled when I was out there. There are certainly some issues like this which you need to research and think about before you go. As well as having a good idea of where you are going and what the customs are like there.” Another HLSS Intern at MMU, Megan Smith, went abroad to Seville through the Erasmus study placement. She said, “I will highly advise you to save some money before you go. ”Research and planning is essential for your year abroad. But students from all disciplines should be encouraged that studying abroad is achievable and hugely beneficial to them when they graduate, and MMU offers a huge amount of support for any student thinking about taking a Study Abroad option. So be inspired and study abroad.

Amillah Javed is currently studying English and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is passionate about journalism and teaching and hopes to pursue a career in one of these fields. Amillah also has an interest in writing creatively and having work published. Follow her on Twitter @a_amillah

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